Jack Daniels: 'Operation Ride Home' helps bring troops home for holidays through sale of 'barrel trees'

Jack Daniels barrel tree
Posted at 7:00 PM, Dec 31, 2022
and last updated 2023-01-01 00:14:06-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A lot of people may be toasting with Jack Daniels tonight. But Jack does a lot more than make smooth Tennessee Whiskey, they also do good deeds.

For over a decade, Jack Daniel's has partnered with the Armed Services YMCA for "Operation Ride Home."

It's a program that touches the heart of Tennessee native and Master Distiller Chris Fletcher. NewsChannel 5's Ben Hill traveled down to Lynchburg to see how whiskey barrels are helping bring home thousands of our service members for the holidays. The stories from troops can differ, but the theme stays the same...home for the holidays.

Because like the song, no matter how far away you roam, you can't beat home sweet home. That's where "Operation Ride Home" helps.

"There's no greater feeling than to be able to make that happen for our heroes," says Chris Fletcher, Master Distiller at Jack Daniel's.

Fletcher’s team kicks off the giving with a $100,000 donation for the campaign. In a partnership with the Armed Services YMCA, barrel trees are set up across the country…from Lynchburg to Nashville, down to Miami and out to Anaheim.

"Those are actual Jack Daniel's whiskey barrels... they're empty! There's no whiskey left in them!" says Fletcher. But, people can bring the empty barrels home and help a great cause by buying them from the trees.

"The biggest thing we have to do is find nice pretty clean barrels that come out of the barrel house."

All of the proceeds go to "Operation Ride Home.” Donations go to airfare and gas cards to help bring the troops home to see family.

"A lot of people don't realize that especially the junior enlisted service men and women...they may be able to get back to a base, but that base may be all the way across the country from their family,” says Fletcher.

They've surpassed more than $2,000,000 since the campaign began back in 2011. With that, they've helped more than 10,000 of our service men and women get home to spend time with their loved ones during the holiday season. That team at Jack helping to make this happen make those American white oak barrels too.

It’s something the citizens of Lynchburg, TN take great pride in.

"Those barrels were made by our team at our cooperage, our great barrel makers, they aged our whiskey until it was ready to be put into the bottle."

You're taking home a piece of Jack Daniel’s history all while helping our nation's bravest.

"To be a small part to help moments like that happen for our troops -- for our heroes -- that's one of the things we look forward to all year long in Lynchburg is to be able to help with that,” says Fletcher.

Because you can't beat home sweet home.

By the way, when you pick up a 53-gallon barrel you'll need a pretty big truck. They weigh about 100 pounds, even empty. They're all spoken for this year, but if you want to learn more about “Operation Ride Home,” click here.

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